In July 2015 my Father died of advanced metastatic prostate cancer. Diagnosed in December 2007, I had only hope. Hope that he would survive this. Hope there would be a cure. Hope that it was just a bad dream and I had yet to awaken from the nightmare of it all. And then all of a sudden, 8 years turned into 8 days and…he was gone.
Early on in his diagnosis he was outspoken about planning an adventure to Alaska to canoe the Yukon River. He had been stationed at Ft. Greeley in Delta Junction, Alaska and always wanted to return and float the mighty Yukon. After his radical prostatectomy we adventured to Montana in preparation for the Yukon, and spent several days paddling the Missouri and tracing the steps of the Lewis & Clark Expedition along the White Cliff section of the river.
We began talking about the Yukon, said we would do it, but as time went on we began to speak of it less and less and more about the latest cancer treatments and clinical trials. His PSA began to rise. We began researching oncologists with new ideas. We talked about them. Then came chemotherapy. We talked about that. We stopped talking about the Yukon. We talked about Lupron, Firmagon, F-18 Scans, Xofigo and Xtandi, Provenge, Docetaxel and Jevtana. His PSA continued to climb. He traveled from east coast to west coast to meet with new doctors, but never north toward the Yukon. It metastasized to his liver and then his brain. And then he was gone.
His life had been reduced from living it, to struggling to survive it. I know that deep down he still had the desire to canoe the Yukon, and to go off in search of adventure. I am reminded of a quote by Mark Twain from Life on the Mississippi: “Now and then we had a hope that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates.” I say to men staring down the barrel of prostate cancer that you cannot afford to not go off in search of buried treasure, to seek a new adventure, to take to the seas, the mountains and the rivers. Take a brief interlude and just Go! and forget about the latest clinical trial, the results of the most recent blood test. Put down your laptops and cell phones, put aside your supplements, Boost and Ensure, and embark on an adventure to disengage from the crisis at hand – to be a pirate for an hour, a day, a week…
I go now to the Yukon for my father, and to fulfill his dream. And for all the men, whom like my father, their lives have been reduced to a struggle for survival. I go in the hope that you will join me in my 2,000 mile journey by donating to funding prostate cancer research, awareness and education to help combat a disease that takes the lives of too many men.